Pulse Point Newsletter for February 20, 2001
Published by Alliance Consulting International
Partners in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety

By Enrique Medina, MS, CIH

This month we continue our review of recently released proposed Official Mexican Standards (NOMs in Spanish) issued by Mexico's Ministry of Labor and Social Security (STPS). These standards are currently undergoing revisions prior to publication as final rules.

This month we present an overview of Proposed Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-007-STPS-2000, "Agricultural activities-Facilities, machinery, equipment and tools-Safety conditions", published on June 22, 2000. Responses to public comments received after its publication appeared in the Official Journal of the Federation on January 15, 2001.

STPS states in the preamble that the purpose of this proposed standard is to regulate safety conditions in agricultural activities related to the use of farm machinery and equipment. It recognizes that technological advances in agricultural production and packaging of farm products have increased the accident rates in these occupations, requiring issuance of this standard to establish employers' responsibilities in reducing hazards to agricultural workers. This standard complements NOM-003-STPS-1999, which regulates health and safety conditions in the use of agricultural inputs, including pesticides and fertilizers.

The standard defines agricultural activities as jobs from preparation of the field through harvest and packaging of farm products, including the use and maintenance of farm machinery, tools and equipment. Mechanical or industrial processing of farm products is not included.

While the new standard does not require the employer to conduct a hazard assessment of agricultural operations, as part of its obligations, the employer must:

The employer must also provide adequate ventilation in fuel transfer activities, observe the standards for pressurized vessels, implement safety signage and color coding of pipelines for fluid conveyance, and organize the worker-management health and safety commission in the workplace.

Of particular note are requirements for employers to provide hats or caps to workers exposed to the sun, to provide ergonomic seats for moving machinery, and those placing limits on the maximum weight allowed for manual lifting, according to age and gender. Men under 18 years of age may not handle loads over 35 kilograms (kg), while those over 18 can handle up to 50 kg, equivalent to 110 lbs. Women are limited to 20-kg loads and pregnant or post-partum women are prohibited from engaging in manual lifting. Women workers are required to inform their employer of their pregnancy status. Workers who operate noisy equipment must also receive annual audiometric exams.

The employer must provide a first aid kit in the work place equipped to handle burns, lacerations, fractures, heat stress, and animal bites and stings.

The employer's written, site-specific safety program shall include the following:

  • Safety devices for machine guarding, control of hazardous energies and emergency shut-off for all machinery and equipment, especially oscillating and rotating equipment.
  • Devices to prevent accidental disengagement of trailers or other rolling equipment.
  • Safety features for all farm vehicles, such as braking devices; rear-view mirrors; adjustable seats with adequate visibility, screens or shade covers and anti-rolling protection; lights for night-time work; accessible, well kept controls, and noise mufflers, as well as hearing protection.
  • The proposed NOM requires that the safety program include procedures for handling and maintenance of manual and power tools, such as proper handles, shields against flying objects, and proper grounding and shut-off devices. Workers must be properly trained in the safe use and maintenance of tools.

    The standard also covers safety requirements in buildings and production or storage sheds, such as fire protection, means of egress, walking and working surfaces, slips and falls, ladder safety and electrical safety, among others.

    As in most newly promulgated STPS standards, the proposed NOM provides employers the option to contract with an accredited Verification Unit to verify or evaluate compliance with the standard. Verification Unit assessments will be valid for a two-year period. The proposed standard was published on June 22, 2000 and underwent public review to elicit comments. Following the normal rule-making process, a revised proposed standard will be published after the comments received have been reviewed, The proposed NOM is slated to become a final standard 180-day period following its publication in the Official Journal of the Federation.

    If you have questions about how the new environmental impact regulations may affect your current or future projects, please contact us at (619) 297-1469 or send us an email at emedina@pulse-point.com.


    Alliance Consulting International
    Partners in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
    3361 28th St.
    San Diego, California 92104
    (fax (619)297-1023

    For articles in previous issues of Pulse Point visit our web site's "archive" section at: www.pulse-point.com/
    To unsubscribe, just reply to this message and write "Unsubscribe" in the Subject bar.

    All material Copyright © 2001 Pulse Point.
    Pulse Point is written for the benefit of our readers with the sole intent to provide general information. The articles are not intended as specific opinions or as a substitute for professional advice in individual cases.